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10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia MD, 21044
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Laurel, MD 20707
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Columbia MD 21046
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On the Safe Side

“Sleet,” “freezing rain” and “snow” might return to our regular vocabulary soon as weather experts are calling for another harsh winter. Local meteorologists are predicting that this winter will be “colder and slightly wetter than normal, with above-normal snowfall” in reference to projections made in the 2015 edition of The Old Farmers’ Almanac.

To provide new and experienced drivers with more exposure to braving winter weather elements on the road, HCC is offering a new noncredit continuing education Advanced Driving Skills course that teaches braking and crash avoidance techniques as well as skid avoidance and recovery skills.

The four-hour course, offered in partnership with DriveTeam®, Inc., is the first of its type to be offered in central Maryland.

“Most people only have basic driver’s training,” says Russell Goodacre, a freshman at Shepherd University who took the course while home for Thanksgiving. “This course will help you improve your skills while preparing you to react properly to adverse conditions.”

The first part of the course is held in the classroom where students learn obstacle avoidance and braking techniques that they implement during the second segment of the course in their own vehicles with the instructors in HCC’s Parking Lot F.

“The classroom and driving parts reinforced each other. I learned how to better control my truck when the unexpected happens. I also learned that I have a comfort level while I drive,” says Goodacre.

During the final part of the course, students practice how to handle skid situations with the instructor in HCC’s Skid-Vehicle, also in Parking Lot F. The Skid-Vehicle, remotely controlled by the instructor from the passenger seat, allows the driver to experience a range of environmental changes from completely dry conditions to black ice.  The SkidSystem also allows the driver to better understand the vehicle safety systems: ABS, Traction Control, and Electronic Stability Control, of today’s technologically advanced vehicles.  

“I recommend that others take the course as a way to answer the question, ‘What should I do when I’m driving my car and suddenly it feels like I’m no longer in control of where I want to go,’” says John Lucas, a Columbia resident who recently took the course. “Why not practice your reaction before you actually encounter such a situation? If you have a young driver that is still under your care, perhaps a teenager, then use your influence to have him or her take this course. Not only will he or she likely become safer and a more confident driver, but you’ll also have a better feeling that he or she will be better at avoiding an accident.”

HCC’s partner in offering the course, DriveTeam, has offered the same class to more than 25,000 students nationwide since 1990. In addition to serving residents, the Advanced Driving Skills class provides a team-building opportunity for area businesses.

“We’ve worked with a number of businesses to provide valuable life skills through advanced skid training,” says Ken Stout, who founded DriveTeam and instructs the Advanced Driving Skills course. “With HCC, we can now bring that same training to the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area for businesses and organizations who are looking to build essential skills for their employees, while having a great time with their fellow co-workers.”

Topics: Science & Tech
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